Shop products vs Professional Salon products
Normal healthy hair is between pH4.5 – pH5.5. It is considered acidic. When hair has the correct pH the cuticle is compact and closed, protecting the internal structure and giving the appearance of shiny smooth overall healthy hair. Hair that is a healthy pH level has natural bounce, shine, detangles easily and has radiant condition. If the hair is in an alkaline state above pH7, the cuticle is raised and may even be torn or singed. The hair fibre itself is also swollen. This gives the hair a very dull, dry appearance. This hair is very difficult to comb when wet. The hair will not accept colour evenly, unless a pre treatment is done.
A relaxer normally sits at pH12-pH14. Permanent straightener or curls sit at pH11-pH13. A permanent colour sits at about pH9 and a semi colour sits at about pH6. A good in-salon treatment will be a pH3. This helps to lock in hair colour.
Now shop products are generally a high pH, or a lot of them will say “pH balanced”. That sounds like it could be good for the hair but we now know that “balanced” is a pH7, when we need a pH4.5-pH5.5 for our hair to be healthy. Unfortunately, a lot of the so-called “colour safe” shampoos are way above 5.5.
All professional products have an acidic pH. A shampoo which is supposed to open our cuticle scales should be between pH5-pH6. A conditioner should be between pH3.5-pH4.5 as it’s meant to close and seal our cuticles which leaves our hair shiny and smooth.
The second difference is the subject of sulfates. Sulfates are derived from salt. They are basically detergent surfactants. They penetrate and break down dirt and create foam. In the case of Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (main ingredient in shampoo) it has a small molecular weight that will allow it to penetrate through the skin even into the blood stream and therefore will be carried and enter into every organ in the body, heart, brain, liver, eyes etc. Sodium Lauryl Sufate has aggressive properties due to many unstable (unpaired) electrons. Shop products have a high amount of sulfates and that is why they foam so much and give the feeling of squeaky clean hair. Sulfates are also responsible for stripping colour out of the hair as well as make the hair dry and dull. They can also make the scalp very dry and flaky, which many people then mistake for dandruff.
Your professional products are very low in sulfates, so your first shampoo will never foam. The more foam a product has, the more sulfates there are. A lot of professional products now have sulfate free shampoos. The foaming agents have now been created by using natural ingredients like corn, coconut and sugar.
Salon products have years of research behind them. They are extremely concentrated and if used correctly, can last a long time. The molecules are much smaller and penetrate into the hair shaft. The ingredients used are of the highest quality and go through many processes in order to care for the hair.
Shop products are nowhere near as concentrated, and only work on the surface of the hair. They are able to give the hair a cosmetic feeling but never really feed the hair what it needs.
You really can feel the difference!
Try it for yourself but make sure that you are getting the right product for your hair type for best results.
Some of my salon favourites for breaking hair:
REDKEN EXTREME shampoo (R210), conditioner (R242) and leave in treatment (R279)
MATRIX FORTIFY shampoo (R130), conditioner (R145) and leave in treatment (R155)
L’OREAL PROFESSIONEL FORCE VECTOR shampoo (180), conditioner (R205) and leave in treatment (R205)
MIRRORS hair lab.